Kentucky's Davis clear top pick in NBA draft
Draft unpredictable after first pick off board
There's not a lot of mystery at the top: Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Hornets are a match, and there is little argument that the college player of the year from Kentucky isn't the top talent in the 2012 NBA Draft.
But the No. 2 pick, which bounced to the Charlotte Bobcats, is where the plentiful debate about the prospect pecking order begins.
The Bobcats had an NBA-record low winning percentage that gave them the best chance at Davis. But the lottery didn't work out that way, and the Bobcats were dealt another defeat.
There are needs all around the team's roster. Tuesday's trade for shooting guard Ben Gordon adds what coach Mike Dunlap said was the team's greatest weakness -- shooters. He's undersized like 2011 first-rounder Kemba Walker, but the two UConn products combine to fill the void for perimeter punch.
If the Bobcats don't deal the pick -- Dunlap said that possibility is very much in play -- the options include Kansas junior power forward Thomas Robinson, Kentucky freshman small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Florida freshman shooting guard Bradley Beal, North Carolina sophomore small forward Harrison Barnes and UConn freshman center Andre Drummond.
Robinson recently held a private workout for the Bobcats and is projected to be the team's pick. However, deals are reportedly coming in as teams vie to get in position to grab the prospect they prefer, rather than waiting to see who's available in the middle of the lottery.
One team with the assets to jump up a few spots in Cleveland. The Cavaliers' rebuilding project advanced last season with two top picks, including No. 1 overall selection Kyrie Irving, the 2012 NBA Rookie of the Year. Tristan Thompson, drafted fourth overall last season, wasn't a major factor.
The Cavaliers are high on Beal, a smooth shooter compared to Ray Allen, and Barnes. But one or both could be gone by the time the Cavaliers are scheduled to pick at No. 4.
Drummond, a 7-footer with leaping and shot-blocking ability, is considered a project but size tends to rise on draft night. There are questions about his drive and how soon he'll contribute. The other top centers include Meyers Leonard of Illinois, a 7-footer with a face-the-basket game and immense potential. He's a target of several teams in the top 10, and could be paired with Davis in Charlotte. The Hornets also have the No. 10 pick.
In addition to Barnes, three other North Carolina players could be drafted in the top 20. Sophomore point guard Kendall Marshall, who set the ACC single-season record for assists last season, senior power forward Tyler Zeller and junior John Henson are projected as first-rounders.
Kentucky, though, could match last year's draft haul by landing four players in the first round in back-to-back years.
Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist are likely lottery picks. Junior forward Terrance Jones, sophomore point guard Marquis Teague, sophomore shooting guard Doron Lamb and senior forward Darius Miller are also first-round options.